Nelson Cruz was 0 for 14 coming out of the All-Star Break and 0 for 15 overall in his last five games before Davey Martinez decided to give the 42-year-old, 18-year veteran a night off in the second game of the Nationals’ three-game series in Los Angeles, CA’s Dodger Stadium last night.
“I gave him a day off,” Martinez said in his pregame press conference last night in LA.
“We got a quick turnaround tomorrow,” he explained, with a 10:10 PM ET start last night and 12:10 PM first pitch today. “So, he’s going to play tomorrow against the lefty [Andrew Heaney].”
Cruz ended up coming on as a pinch hitter in the Nats’ comeback win, and the designated hitter in D.C. struck out in his first of two plate appearances, before snapping an 0 for 16 stretch with a two-run double the second time up.
So far in July, Cruz is now 10 for 61 in 17 games and 68 plate appearances, for a tough .164/.250/.197 line on the month.
“His timing is a little off,” Martinez said before last night’s game. “He’s a little late getting his foot down. I know he came out early today to hit, so it’s something that he wanted to work on.”
“He goes through stretches where his timing is really good,” the manager added, “… and he hits the ball hard, consistently. We’ve just got to try to get him back there as soon as possible, and hopefully it could be as early as tomorrow, if he has to pinch-hit today, it could be today.”
Will the double last night, and insurance runs he drove in help spark Cruz with the August 2nd trade deadline and a potential move to a club in need of a bat a distinct possibility in the coming days?
Martinez said his DH has been through it all before, and will be a pro wherever he is on August 3rd.
“He would love to stay here. If he stays here, great. If he happens to go somewhere else, then he knows he’s got a job to do, and that’s to help that club win.”
Cruz is back in the Nationals’ starting lineup for this afternoon’s finale in LA.
HERE’S THE NATIONALS LINEUP FOR THE 3RD OF 3 in DODGER STADIUM:
Teamwork = Sweep Alert #NATITUDE pic.twitter.com/7GMTH5mNk8— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) July 27, 2022